There's a lot of references to "The Witching Hour" in popular culture. Mundanely, it can refer to the time of day when things are at their worst - the rush time a job, the time of day when the newborn is ALWAYS cranky (that was 5:30 pm for the Spawn), that type of thing. Sort of the inverse of Happy Hour, both in tenor and in the ability to have a drink during it.
The basic premise behind 'the witching hour' is that witches, ogres, demons, and all sorts of 'nasties' come out and play when all the adults circadian rhythms say 'sleep'. And by 'adult', I really mean adult. As in 27 or older, when the brain is fully developed.
Here's what the adult body circadian rhythms are doing during the day
But, as you might guess, this post is going to look at
that from the perspective of an adult Pagan/witch. And when most folks talk about the
witching hour for witches, they most often mean midnight (with a small
number of people saying 3 am) being the 'best time' to do magic/rituals/whatever.
That's a nice theory. It fits in very well with the lives of teens, who don't have the same circadian rhythms as adults, and usually feel the need to hide their witchcraft from their parents.
But the times that matter to most witchcraft are liminal times. Liminal times are the 'times between'. The best known liminal time for most witches and pagans is Samhain - the Celtic 'New Year' that is celebrated on a day after the end of the old year and before the beginning of the new year. Lliminal times go together with the liminal spaces we make when we cast a circle, as in the line so often used as part of circle casting "A place that is not a place, a time that is not a time, between the worlds and beyond". A three-fold liminality!
What does liminality bring to the table?
What do you want it to bring to the table? For me, in my worldview, it is a time when it is easier to manipulate energy. Energy in these times is more fluid, not yet one thing or the next.
These are the times I like to play.
Every person has their liminal times. Your personal ones are the times each day when you are falling asleep and when you are waking up - you are in two worlds, and neither, at once. We've all been there, probably within the past 12 - 24 hours.
Every day has it's liminal times. Midnight is a modern version of a liminal time - until there were clocks, no one knew when it was midnight (at least without referencing the Big Dipper, humor me here). More traditionally, the liminal times were and are the grey time before dawn and twilight. Not yet the one state of night, nor the other state of day. These are the times when traditional Witching was done.
Every month liminality
The month, okay the LUNAR month has it's own liminality. That occurs on the Dark Moon, the time after the moon has waned all the way, and before that first thin crescent of the Waxing/New Moon. Just like Samhain is a day between the years, the Dark Moon is a few hours between the months. For me, I use the 13 hours (one hour for the 13 lunar months of the year) before the astronomical New Moon.
Don't get me wrong
I don't limit my magic/ritual to liminal times. For example, I cook at all times of day - I'm going to do my food magic every time I cook and not try to only cook at liminal times. And as noted earlier, I create my own liminal time and space when I cast a circle. But Ii don't blow off the every day or every month liminal times when I have some workings that I can do that don't have a set time frame. Because I'm one of them Practical Pagans.